Perspectives

Executive Summary

In North America, the market for fresh produce is undergoing a series of rapid changes. The fresh produce industry is facing a set of interconnected challenges:

Consumption is shifting. While fresh, unprocessed produce consumption has slowly been increasing over the last 40 years, some data shows a decline since the late 1990s. Consumers identify convenience as a key driver of purchase decisions; they are looking for produce that is easy to buy, store and use. But, a quick scan of packaging in the produce department shows too many packages that are not designed with consumer convenience in mind.

Commoditization is a force that is holding down returns to fruit and vegetable shippers and brandowners. Innovation without strong branding will not deliver lasting competitive advantage.

Costs are increasing for both produce packers/shippers and retailers, especially labour costs.

In light of these challenges, a possible solution takes shape: high-performance produce packaging that:

  • Tells consumers exactly how to use the product and is convenient for consumers to buy, store and use
  • Communicates a clear brand message and addresses a specific market segment or use case
  • Is highly automated (to reduce direct labour costs) and is easy to merchandise at the retail level

This report concludes with some examples of high-performance packaging.